QUARANTINE DIARIES: For those who say they have no love lost for ABS-CBN, try to be in a remote community in the middle of a disaster

QUEZON CITY (MindaNews / 19 July) — Am I a fan of ABS-CBN? No, not really. Am I a fan of big media? No, not really.

I was trained in Development Communication and I know by heart the DevComm versus MassComm comparison as it was drilled to us in DevCom 10 classes. You will never pass the intro course and proceed to Devcom 20, 30, and 40 without nearly parroting what the DevComm icons wrote and taught.

As soon as I got my MA Anthro degree, I practiced DevComm and anthropology in one of the remotest parts of the country in Sultan Kudarat. In the most difficult circumstances possible. I practiced with an Itinerant Mission, working towards ancestral domain rights, sustainable agriculture and food security, as well as community-based health.  While I was not really a part of the Mission Team, like them I received only a modest allowance for personal needs;  our food and lodging were dependent on what the community could provide us. I became an expert in planning our weekly menu from the offerings that churchgoers brought during  masses.

In that remote town we practiced the most simple communication methods and approaches possible — face to face communication, bitay max, theater, as well as learning by doing and appreciated whatever results it helped produce to effect change in people’s lives. There, I also learned how important ABS-CBN was. It’s the network with the most malakas na signal, both TV and radio.  And it was for free.  It was where we got our news — from the moves to amend the  Constitution, to El Niño, and the extent of rat infestation in 2005. It was from these information that the communities mobilized action.

I wasn’t a fan of ABS-CBN. I hated  Noli de Castro, his news reporting, and all his programs to the max. I thought the station was better off without him. I hated Going Bulilit and banned Pablo’s Yaya from watching it because I didn’t want their crass humor to influence my son. Aside from their news programs, I honestly did not know their other shows because I did not watch a lot of TV. But that’s just me. I am always free to switch channels or turn it off.

But the non-renewal of their franchise is not about their shows’ contents or how they could be improved. Sus, pwede naman iyong ibigay na recommendations.

For those who say they have no love lost for ABS-CBN, try to be in a remote community in the middle of a disaster and see how far and wide your personal comms can reach. Go to any community in the middle of this pandemic and try if you can do honest to goodness face-to-face communication without fear of infecting or getting infected by someone.

The non-renewal of their franchise is about the suppression of press freedom. It’s about at least 11,000 people losing their jobs in this worst possible time. It’s about people in the remotest parts of the country not being able to watch or listen to the news from the network with the widest reach. In the middle of a pandemic, this is what we need the least.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Eizel Hilario is an applied anthropologist working on ancestral domains, environment, and biodiversity conservation issues both at policy advocacy and community levels, while taking her Doctor of Social Development studies in UP Diliman and parenting a 9 year-old child. She grew up in Bukidnon, finished DevCom at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños and this piece is a response to one of her former professors’ social media post about having no love lost for ABS-CBN)